Engineering students develop life-saving CPR Glove

By Faculty of Engineering, February 9, 2007

    Fourth-year electrical and biomedical engineering students Corey Centen and Nilesh Patel developed the CPR Glove, which measures the frequency and depth of compressions being administered during CPR and outputs the data to a digital display. Photo by Susan Bubak.
Millions of people in North America trained to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) are unable to properly administer the life-saving procedure less than six months later. This includes doctors and nurses. As a result, survival from cardiac arrest remains low.

Two engineering students from McMaster University have invented what they believe is the solution: the CPR Glove. They have entered a prototype of their innovative device in this year's Ontario Engineering Competition for university students being held in Ottawa from Feb. 9 to Feb. 11. They are part of a 17-member team competing from McMaster.

The black, one-size-fits-all CPR Glove features a series of sensors and chips that measure the frequency and depth of compressions being administered during CPR and outputs the data to a digital display.

To be effective, compressions must be given at the rate of 100 per minute and at a depth of four to five centimeters.

A study measuring retention of CPR training published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that 59 per cent of the time, compressions were applied at the rate of only 80 per minute. Thirty-seven per cent of the time, the compressions were too shallow. CPR administered at these levels is not likely to save a person in cardiac arrest.

"We were brainstorming about what we could create for our final-year design project that would provide a real contribution," said Corey Centen, a fourth-year student in electrical and biomedical engineering at McMaster, whose family lives in Ottawa. "We came across this study and recognized the importance of finding a solution."

The two students started working on the concept in September 2006 and developed a number of prototypes, bringing the size of components down each time. They wrote the programs and hand-fabricated the button-size computer chips that operate the glove. They even designed the pattern for the glove but turned to a professional seamstress to recommend fabric and stitch the glove together.

"We see the glove being available as part of any standard first-aid package," explains Nilesh Patel, also a fourth-year electrical and biomedical engineering student at McMaster. "It is also ideal for CPR training and refresher courses. It would be easy to afford since the components are readily available and relatively inexpensive."

Regardless of how they fare at the competition, Centen and Patel have filed a provisional U.S. patent on the technology and are planning to look for a manufacturer to produce the glove. They feel there is a ready market among those who provide CPR training and as an indispensable aid in sporting facilities, workplaces, medical facilities, and homes.

The Ontario Engineering Competition (OEC) is an annual event that challenges university engineering students from across the province to a series of competitions.

The 28th annual event is being held at Carleton University in Ottawa from Feb. 9 to Feb. 11. More than 200 competitors from 14 universities are expected to participate.

The six competition categories include Senior Team Design, Junior Team Design, Innovative Design, Consulting Engineering, Engineering Communications, and Parliamentary Debate. Winning teams move on to compete at the Canadian Engineering Competition being held in Saskatoon from March 8 to March 11.